If you go to Mount Herzl in Jerusalem you will find the “Victims of Acts of Terror Memorial”. Erected by Israel in 1998 the monument is, as the name suggests, built to recognize Israelis civilians and soldiers killed in Israel and the Palestinian territories by acts of terrorism. It consists of two walls, one dedicated to soldiers who have lost their lives throughout Israel’s respective wars and conflicts and another to civilians.
Not unlike how the Vietnam memorial in Washington DC lists the names of those American servicemen whose lives killed in that horrible war this memorial lists the victims of terrorist-related incidents. Also, as is the case with the Vietnam memorial, the vast majority of the names are of Israelis since it is, after all, a national monument. Israel has a Remembrance Day each year which seeks to commemorate soldiers killed while serving in the Israeli military along with the victims of terrorist acts which claimed the lives of Israelis and Jews worldwide. When Pope Francis visited the site upon invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year he prayed and was shown a plague dedicated to the victims of the Jewish cultural center bombing in Buenos Aires back in 1994.
One of the most noteworthy, divisive and depressing name to go on that wall in recent years was inscribed just a few days ago. Albeit only for a very short few days.
Last year when three Jewish teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank, Jewish settlers took it upon themselves to extract retribution. Settlers kidnapped a young Arab boy called Mohammed Abu Khudeir and burned him to death. A crude criminal act not dissimilar to how a lone Jewish settler gunned down Muslim worshippers in a mosque in Hebron back in 1994 – and was consequently denounced by then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as a “degenerate murderer”. Khudeir’s three killers are presently standing trial for this heinous crime.
Israeli-Arabs have also been victims of Palestinian terror attacks but they are recognized as Israeli citizens. Khudeir was a 16-year-old Palestinian who lived in the West Bank. While he is not the first named Palestinian to be killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers to be included on the memorial – a Palestinian who was accidentally shot dead by Israeli soldiers during the violence of the Second Intifada in 2002, Abed Raba, has also been included on the memorial – his inclusion was nevertheless noteworthy in-and-of itself and has been opposed by Israelis and Palestinians alike, including Khudeir’s own family.
Khudeir’s father opposed the inclusion on the basis that he was a “Palestinian, not Israeli, even if I am a resident of east Jerusalem, and I do not want his name written next to that of Israeli soldiers.”
An Israeli named Ron Kehrmann, who also lost his daughter to a terrorist bus bombing in Israel back in 2003, was quoted in the Israeli press voicing his adamant opposition to the inclusion of Khudeir on the memorial. “With all the pain, he was killed by criminals, why does his name appear on Mount Herzl alongside all those soldiers who gave their lives for the creation of Israel?” he asked clearly believing such an inclusion to run contrary to the purpose of such a national memorial.
Whatever your thoughts regarding the political dimensions of including or not including Khudeir’s name on that memorial the sad fact remains that he is yet another innocent victim of this ongoing conflict. A person who was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and murdered by individual renegade men who were out for blood in the wake of another terrible crime. Another terrible crime and life stolen by the perpetual bloodletting and cycle of violence that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.